Language and Legend in the Fantasy Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien
Melissa K. Cornwell, (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
Honors Theses, Paper 342, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2011)
J.R.R. Tolkien’s series, The Lord of the Rings, had a great impact on the literary world. Tolkien himself made quite an impact on English society as a philologist and teacher, and he wrote his novels because of his passion for language and mythology. The Lord of the Rings series included the books The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, and he wrote The Silmarillion after completing the series as a sort of prequel to the events in the other books. Tolkien’s life was profoundly affected by language and literature, and he brought what he knew about the mechanics of languages to his great works.
The breadth of the world that Tolkien created was so enormous that his son, Christopher Tolkien, continued to publish his notes and other stories after Tolkien died. This world has been the source of material for critics for decades after the books were published. The characters and the plot are well-known subjects of study, but the literary aspect of Tolkien’s books has captured even more interest. Although the books are classified as fantasy, their potential in their literary qualities cannot be ignored. Tolkien set out to build a complete mythology from his imagination and accomplished that in his novels. The mythology and language of the novels became intense areas of study as critics began to realize the potential in Tolkien’s works.